"Superstition is the poetry of life."
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I could never quite figure it out. If it was considered bad luck to drink the first cup, then by refusing it, you were essentially pushing the bad luck off onto the next person. Wouldn’t it be nicer to pour the first cup and just throw it away? At some point, I decided that the whole point was to let someone else try the tea before you to make sure it had steeped long enough and wasn’t too weak. That still wouldn’t be a
charitable move, but it seemed nicer than sending bad luck someone else’s way.
I’m not much of a tea drinker myself, but Great-Granny’s “tradition” has managed to transcend yet another generation and seep into my psyche as well. In the mornings I make coffee in a small French press. It makes just enough to fill my mug and then fill a small thermos to keep warm for refills. I find myself wondering if the tea rule applies to coffee as well. And since it’s just me drinking the coffee, I wonder how a lone drinker gets around drinking the first cup. So I ponder filling the thermos before I fill the mug, and thus the “first” cup goes into the thermos and gets drunk after the second cup which is poured into the mug, thereby no longer being “first” after all.
Keep in mind these ponderings occur before I’ve drank any coffee, so I really can’t be held responsible for their lack of clarity. Ultimately, I pour my coffee, grab a biscotto and go about my day oblivious to any bad luck I may have brought down upon myself. Great-Granny might be turning over in her grave, but it can’t be helped.
I asked my daughters if they remembered Mom’s thing about tea, and they do have a vague recollection of it, but I don’t think it’s something that they will be teaching their children. I’m sure I’ll have a chance to babysit my grandkids, though, when they come along. I’ll have to pass on some family lore and teach my grandchildren about passing up the first cup of tea. Maybe they can figure out their great-great-great-granny’s logic.
Or maybe they'll just think I'm a dotty old grandmother.